How to Save a Dying Iguana {How to Tell They Are Dying}

My mother’s favorite pet in her life is the iguana she brought home when I was a young girl. We learned so much about loving and caring for animals.

We learned how to save a dying iguana and how to tell they are dying.

This article details what we went through to help our buddy (we named him Buddy) recover from minor or major ailments and the moment when we had to eventually say goodbye.

How to Save a Dying Iguana

Saving a dying iguana cannot be done alone. Since these reptiles hide their symptoms so well, a professional and medical diagnosis is crucial to help your loved iguana recover.

Ointments, fluid injections and antibiotic medicines are prescribed, applied or administered. Environmental changes and dietary changes are also essential.

Temperatures, space, sounds, light and nutrition are all connected to evaluate and adapt to suit the needs of an iguana who is stressed, sick or dying. The sooner you react and make the changes needed with the diagnosis you have received from the vet, the better your chances of saving your dying iguana.

How Do I Tell If My Iguana Is Dying?

Your iguana is undergoing some undiagnosed troubling changes or you are seeing that something is not right. A visit to the vet is the best way to tell if your iguana is dying.

If death is a major concern, there should be no hesitation but to visit the vet right away. Let’s start by looking at telltale signs that are worrying or troublesome for iguanas:

  • Change of color (dark, pale, lighter)
  • Fungal infections
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Unable to move comfortably
  • Weight loss
  • Sunken eyes
  • Cloudy eyes
  • Excessive mucus production
  • Runny or constipated bowls
  • Oozing fluids from eyes, ears, anus

Iguana could be troubled by metabolic bone disease from a calcium deficiency. It might become increasingly difficult for them to move around without pain.

They could lose skin, have an infection spread across their body or experience arthritis. Spots may develop and here’s an article to explain that.

The problems listed above are only a glimpse into some of the worries surrounding sick or dying iguanas. Get a diagnosis from the vet as soon as you can.

Why Is My Iguana Not Eating?

A lack of appetite is one of many signs associated with other ailments that are physical, emotional or worse. A dying iguana may give up eating, but one that is stressed or fearful could do the same.

Here are some other reasons why your iguana is not eating;;

  • Change in environment
  • Not yet adjusted to surroundings
  • Too many new faces
  • High traffic area location around enclosure
  • Too warm or too cold
  • Too much light or not enough light
  • Too noisy
  • Illness (fungal, viral, bacterial)
  • Food options not nutritious enough
  • Food is repetitive and boring
  • Not enough fresh fruits and veggies
  • Lack of exercise or outside enclosure time
  • Not enough fluids (dehydration)

A lack of energy from an iguana who is staring off into the distance, ignoring you and everything else around them is going to tell you that something is not right.

Why Is My Iguana Wobbly?

Iguanas can experience twitching, loss of balance or difficulty moving around. They are victims of metabolic bone disease from a lack of calcium or even arthritis.

Parasites, anxiety and illnesses can lead to wobbly actions and movements. Make sure your iguana has not experienced any trauma from a fall that was not seen. Look for wounds or abrasions.

Check for more signs such as:

  • Curled tail
  • Incoordination
  • Bumping into the glass
  • Messing up the enclosure
  • Injuries
  • Illness
  • Lack of appetite
  • Dehydration

Our keen eye and knowing when to intervene or interact with our iguana to reassure them is one of our best skills as their caregiver and companions.

Know when to call it and take your iguana to the vet if they are not moving right. This could prove to be a fatal response if we do not react on time and do something about it.

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Why Is My Iguana Vomiting?

A sick iguana may not be able to ingest food poverty. Have you ever seen your iguana vomit? Could it be a fatal illness or something that just doesn’t go down right? Cut the food you are offering into smaller pieces.

Check for the following or speak to the vet about these items listed below:

  • Bacterial overgrowth in the throat or gut
  • Dehydration
  • Stress
  • Ingesting foreign items that are not food

If your iguana stops drinking, eating and is losing weight, this is getting serious and you must react to it. A veterinarian may have to administer fluids or check to see if they have something in their body that they shouldn’t be there from bacterial overgrowth or a foreign object that they may have accidentally ingested.

Why Does My Iguana Have Diarrhea?

What does normal iguana poop look like? The usual color is green, brown or sometimes white (when mixed with urates). Pasty or water stools are often witnessed in iguanas with diets that may contain too many runny, juicy fruits and vegetables.

Consider offering some more protein from insects as well. If your iguana does not like eating insects, there are powdered forms of this protein available to sprinkle on their regular diet as well.

Runny stool that is prolonged could also indicate the presence of parasites. A veterinarian is willing to take a stool sample and analyze it for more clarity in order to give you assurance that recovery and returning to regular defecation is possible.

Why Is My Iguanas Breathing Heavily?

Sometimes my iguanas breathes with wheezing or pants quickly. I get worried and snap my neck over to his direction to see what’s wrong.

If your iguana is breathing irregularly, it could be temporary as a reaction to temperature changes or other issues such as:

  • Labored, wheezing, gasping for air
  • Obstruction in airways
  • Infection
  • Pneumonia
  • Heart problems
  • Tumors (cancer)
  • Smoke exposure
  • Stress from overheating
  • Low oxygen levels

Without intervening, you could be doing your iguana a major disservice when they are having trouble breathing. Go through the list above and see if you can make any changes.

Add more ventilation and visit the vet for a crucial checkup for any infections or obstructions causing this prolonged abnormal breathing pattern.

For temperature related concerns, check out this article I wrote.

What’s Wrong With My Iguana’s Skin?

Your iguana might be looking like life is losing its battle with nature when their skin looks abnormal. There could be abscesses, growths, fungal infections or changes in color.

Their skin may scale or peel off more than usual. Sometimes it looks like the skin is burned. What can you do and what event caused this to happen in the first place?

Sometimes iguanas bask in the sun or get too close to the UVB light source in their designated basking area for too long. Their skin gets so hot that wounds develop. Electrical cords may also cause burns.

Unfortunately, iguanas are known to get fungal and bacterial infections that may become present on their skin as well. Some infections are easier to spot than others. The skin problems could be coupled with:

  • Pseudomonas
  • Mycobacterium
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • External Parasites

Ticks, lice, mites and fleas can all affect iguanas. The environment around them must be regularly cleaned or else these skin problems may worsen.

Other than that, iguanas may need vaccinations, deworming medications and your careful inspection more often to make sure they do not experience worsening health conditions that could lead to their untimely death.

How to Help a Dying Iguana

If you suspect that your iguana is dying, a visit to the vet is needed. However, you may find out that you need to do more in your effort to save your iguana besides administering medications given to you for your iguana to have a chance at recovering.

In worse-case scenarios, your dying iguana may need comfort and care in their last days or weeks without much hope of recovery.

You should try to apply some of the steps below in caring for your sick or dying iguana. We hope that recovery is possible or comforting them gives them some pleasure in these troubling times.

  • Keep their area quiet.
  • Give them plenty of light and dimly lit areas,
  • Try hand feeding,
  • Add water in a dropper, syringe or palm of your hand to encourage hydration,
  • Keep them away from their waste or clean up more often,
  • Be gentle, calm and soothing with your actions and vocal tones.
  • Assess the amount of pain they are in and ability to move.
  • If breathing is labored, visit the vet once again and discuss possible euthanasia.

A dying iguana may not have the energy to overexert themselves to eat or drink. Making the process of drinking water easier for them is the best you can do for now.

Recovery takes time or maybe time has run out for this lovable creature. Discuss your options for the best, more humane and painless way for your iguana to live out these final moments of their life if recovery is not possible.


Thank you for visiting for the best information to help you enjoy the life of your pocket pet companion in a fun, safe & healthy way.


My name is Anna and I work full time in my local pet shop where we sell many animals that I write about on this site. I love all animals and love writing about them.